TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company, the owners of the Fukushima nuclear power plant) is about to release 1.3 million tons of radioactive waste water from the Fukushima meltdown into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Japan, beginning around Summer 2023.
The science and Pacific Islands communities are pushing back because it is estimated that the radioactive material could affect life all over the Pacific Ocean, with dangerous environmental consequences on ocean life all the way up the food chain, including for humans.
Plus, it could destroy fishing communities in Japan, China, Korea, the Pacific Islands, and the West Coast of the US, impacting trillions of plant, animal, and human lives.
Publicly available scientific research or opinion papers.
*Not affiliated with savethepacificocean.net
PhD Marine Chemistry
Senior Scientist, Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
PhD Engineering, Specializing in Nuclear Fusion
President & Board of Director Institute for Energy and Environmental Research
PhD Molecular Biology
Associate Professor and Director, Centre for Radiation Research Education and Innovation
The University of Adelaide
PhD High Energy Physics
Scientist-in-Residence, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies
Adjunct Professor, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey
PhD Biological Sciences
Research Professor and Director Kewalo Marine Laboratory
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Senior Nuclear Specialist
Pacific Islands Forum
Head of Marine Conservation Division
South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries
Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission
ME, BS Nuclear Engineering
Chief Engineer & Director
Fairewinds Energy Education
1. We urge TEPCO, the Japanese government, the NRA, and the IAEA to STOP THE DUMP. They have not proven their methods work. They have not operated with “scientific due diligence.” The health of the world is at stake.
2. We also ask the IAEA and NRA to update their nuclear dump standards to be in line with the latest science, which shows that tritium bioaccumulates and is dangerous to human and planetary health.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company claims that no more space is available for storage of the contaminated water, but this claim has been disputed. There is a lot of empty contaminated land adjacent to the property.
The loss could be so huge, that there is no model available large enough to calculate the damage at a planetary scale. We would have to consider the net revenues of all Pacific fisheries, coral reefs, tourism, recreation, scuba, surfing, aggregate medical and healthcare, unforeseen impact on oxygen production, planetary stability, and climate change. Purely financial estimates of singular natural resources have been created. For example, the Great Barrier Reef alone has an estimated annual value of $56 Billion US.
International Journal of Environment and Climate Change reports that the oceans are almost entirely responsible for climate change. Any avoidable planetary scale industrial contamination of the ocean must be carefully evaluated to direct impact on Climate Change.
Dumping radioactive material into the ocean is illegal. Since 1993, ocean disposal has been banned by international treaties, like the London Convention (1972), Basel Convention, and MARPOL 73/78. However, some exceptions exist in relation to land based “discharge” directly into each nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Japan would like to interpret this ocean discharge as a land based matter by constructing a 1km pipeline that will pump the waste into the ocean. Put plainly, this is a loophole.
Yes, International Maritime Organization (IMO) is a specialized agency of The United Nations (UN). And International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) is a tribunal process provided by IMO in order to resolve maritime disputes. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is both the international nuclear watchdog, AND they promote nuclear energy use.
Because they’re a neutral judging body. They wait for people to bring cases to them, and to our knowledge, this case hasn’t yet been brought to them. It can be an expensive and long process. Smaller member states who don’t have as much power, like those close to Japan, can be afraid of initiating this process and “rocking the boat,” so to speak, politically. It would make more sense for South Korea, China, or the US, who have more power, to initiate.
There are 64 radioactive nuclides in the water, including strontium-90 (Sr-90), cesium-134 (Cs-134), cesium-137 (Cs-137), iodine-129 (I-129), ruthenium-106 (Ru-106), antimony-125 (Sb-125), and cobalt 60 (Co-60), carbon-14 (C-14) and tritium (T).
Considering the nuclides present in TEPCO’s water, if not removed properly, they could remain in the ocean for more than millions of years.
Tritium is of particular interest because TEPCO’s ALPS processing system cannot remediate Tritium. Tritium, particularly Organically Bound Tritium (OBT), moves freely through biological systems, similar to water. When humans ingest it, whether through drinking water, or by eating fish that have bioaccumulated it, it can cause radioactive damage inside your body, causing cancers and organ failure, with detrimental effects on fetal development. It moves freely through the placental barrier, so it’s particularly awful for fetal development. We are still in the beginning stages of understanding the health effects of tritium, and there is much more research that needs to be done. Releasing it into the water now is premature, and something that cannot be taken back. However, it’s not even the most concerning nuclide in question. There’s still cesium-137, strontium-90, cobalt-60, and ruthenium-106 in the water, which TEPCO hasn’t proven they’ll be able to remove properly. There is scientific concensus that these nuclides are very dangerous. Therefore, they don’t belong in our ocean. None of it does.
No. Tritium, including organically bound tritium (OBT) found at many other reactor sites, is bad to ingest. Tritium bioaccumulates, meaning it works its way up the food chain. When ingested, it causes DNA mutations, which is very serious, causing cancers and organ failure, with detrimental effects on fetal development. OBT stays in fish, and when we eat it, causes bad effects in humans.
Yes, and they’re out of date, from twenty years ago. US drinking water’s standard limit was set without detailed assessment of what it would take to protect the embryo or the fetus, especially in the first trimester. The IAEA’s safety standards for tritium don’t make a distinction between men and women, there is one estimate for generic “adults” which shows its safety standards are also discriminatory against women, AND the most recent data and research they cite is from 2004, nearly twenty years ago. But we know that women and children are more sensitive to radioactivity than men. So, the safety standards are not properly accounting for the populations that are the most affected, and are nearly 20 years old. Now we know a lot more about tritium than we did in 2004.
Yes, and that’s not good. The latest science says that tritium (especially organically bound tritium) is not safe to ingest, but our regulatory standards have not yet caught up to the latest science- our regulatory standards are from nearly 20 years ago (see latest study, cited 2004). However, we shouldn’t be comparing drinking water to sea water, because the way tritium behaves in salt water with lots of living organisms is different than in drinking water. When we’re talking about the ocean, we have to talk about how it affects biological ecosystems. We also shouldn’t be comparing drinking water to eating it. When we eat organically bound tritium, when it’s been accumulated in fish, and it goes through our digestive system, it behaves differently than drinking a glass of water. The comparison is not the same.
“The solution to pollution is dilution” is an old paradigm from the 80s that we know isn’t true in biological systems. This is not a chemistry experiment, this is a biology experiment. When these nuclides are present in biological systems, we know they bioaccumulate, and essentially concentrate up the food chain.
We are not talking about a one-off dump, we also have to take into consideration that the ocean is already over-taxed with plastic and heavy metal pollution, like mercury. Adding more toxins to an already over-taxed ecosystem is negligent. If we hope for a future on this planet, we have to protect the ocean, and start getting smarter about waste management.
There are many safer alternatives, including storing it safely in cement, bioremediation, and electrocoagulation. See our solutions matrix for more information.
YES. Technology outlined in our solutions matrix are all cheaper and safer ways of disposing of nuclear waste. The current discharge plan is estimated at a $500 Billion contract. More scoping needs to be done to estimate exactly how much it would cost to deploy the alternate solutions, but they are in the tens to hundreds of millions, not billions. And the concrete solution would use up all the water in the tanks in 5 years, as opposed to storing and dumping the water in the ocean, which they want to do over 40 years.
The compensation plan for families affected by the original disaster was analyzed to be $124 Billion. However, that was concentrated to the Fukushima area. In this case, the material would be less contained and could spread all over the Pacific.
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